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The Bay Islands of Honduras offer a very different world from that of mainland Honduras. The Islands history, which includes many disputes between the Spaniards and the British during colonial times, with the British actually controlling the islands most of time, has given the islands a unique heritage. There are several islands within the department, with three larger ones being the most popular with tourists: Utila, Roatan and Guanaja. English is so widely spoken in the Islands, that some people don't even speak Spanish, despite the fact that this is the official language of Honduras!
Of the three islands, the largest, and most developed for tourism is Roatan. Roatan is a long island, measuring almost 40 miles in length and with a total landmass of 49 Square miles. The island has a mountainous backbone and is totally surrounded by coral reefs, offering superb diving as well as excellent fishing.
Utila, the smallest of the Islands is also the flattest and closest to the mainland, and is famous world wide as one of the most inexpensive places in the world to get certified as a diver.
Guanaja, the tallest of the islands has become the most elite oriented, with many of the better hotels on the Islands located here. Guanaja is a unique island, as it does not have any roads, and the largest community, known as Bonaca is not even on the island itself, but on a small cay a short distance from Guanaja. Guanaja has a paved runway as an airport, and is forested with the unique Caribbean pine that distinguishes it very much from its sister islands.
The Bay Islands offer a unique experience, and the most interesting facet is that each of the three islands is so very different from the other two. Don't even think that if you've been to one you've seen it all, nothing could be further from the truth. Take your time to visit and discover each of these jewels that are reputed to be some of the last true paradise islands in the western Caribbean.
There are banks in all major towns and cities. Typical business hours are Monday -Friday 9am - 6pm with a few open on Saturday mornings. The majority of the banks only exchange US dollars and a few also exchange travelers’ checks. There are many ATM machines around but most of them accept only Honduran cards, though it is becoming more popular to also accept Visa.
The local currency is called the Lempira. The exchange rate is approximately $1 U.S. = ~23.56 lempira. The U. S. dollar is widely accepted on the islands, though it is recommended that you exchange dollars for Lemps for ease of purchases. Traveler's checks are not accepted in most establishments and can be a burden. Visa and MasterCard credit are accepted in a number, but not all places, with the addition of a small processing fee that is standard in the Bay Islands. The best option is to carry US dollars with you to Honduras and exchange to Lempira’s once you there.
Temperatures range from 75-80F year-round, although the evenings are generally cool because of the prevailing trade winds blowing in from the southeast. Inland temperatures vary with altitude, but generally pleasant all year round. The Caribbean rainy season that is usually very slight in the Bay Islands runs approximately from mid-November to February.
A Departure Tax of $40 must be paid by all people over 12 years of age when leaving the country. This can be paid in U.S. Dollars or the equivalent in Lempira’s.
Tap water is generally not recommended to drink in Honduras, though a number of larger resorts purify their water for guests. Purified bottled water can be bought easily throughout the country.
Drivers are required to show a valid driver’s license and a major credit card or a cash deposit. Driving is on the right-had side of the road. The roads are easy to navigate, but it is recommended you drive only on familiar roads at night.
110 volts, 60 MHz, is used. This is identical to the U.S.A. so you will not need to take an adapter or transformer, however, there are irregularities in the quality of service, and therefore we recommend taking a surge protector for your important electrical equipment.
A U.S. passport valid for at least six months from the date of entry is required to enter Honduras. Though not required by law, some travelers have reported difficulty departing Honduras using a passport with less than three months of validity from the date of departure. A visa is not required, but tourists must provide evidence of return or onward travel.
MARINE PARK FEES:
Divers must pay a $4 U.S. per day Marine Park fee.
Rainy season runs from around October to February, with November and December the wettest months. “High Season” is generally December to May. Lower rates and package deals can usually be found the remaining months of the year. August and September are the hottest months, with temperatures ranging up to a high of 100 F around midday.
No vaccinations or preventative medications are required for travel to the Bay Islands. However, we always suggest that you speak to your family physician for a personal recommendation.
WATER TEMPERATURES AND WETSUITS:
Water temperatures generally range between 78 – 82°F. Most people find wearing a 1mm – 3mm wetsuit keeps them comfortable.